Li Qiang, Ge Fei Talked with Hao Jingfang at “Humanities at Tsinghua ”

At 7 p.m. of October 23, the special program“Folding Beijing: Reality and Fiction” of “Humanities at Tsinghua” kicked off at New Tsinghua Auditorium. Li Qiang and Ge Fei, respectively a well-known sociologist and a famous writer, had discussions with Hao Jingfang, a winner of the 74th  Hugo Award for Best Novelette with her short novel Folding Beijing and also a doctor in economics at Tsinghua University. Starting with Folding Beijing, the three exchanged ideas on the world’s operation from the perspectives of sociology, literature, physics and economics. The program was hosted by Zhang Xiaoqin, an associate professor at Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication.

At the beginning, Hao stated her views on different disciplines and the relations between disciplines and the real world as well as her thoughts about literary creation in her speech. Graduated from Tsinghua University Department of Physics in 2006, Hao then studied at Tsinghua Center for Astrophysics (THCA) from 2006 to 2008 and transferred to Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management and obtained her PhD in economics. While studying her major courses of physics and economics, she also sat on many other courses such as Chinese, history, sociology, politics and philosophy in different departments and got nearly 100 credits for such courses.

During her study at Tsinghua, Hao was profoundly influenced by two teachers, one being Professor Li Qiang, a famous sociologist and the other being Professor Ge Fei, a popular writer. Professor Li’s social stratification theory influenced the design of the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd spaces in Folding Beijing and Professor Ge also guided Hao in her literary creation during class. After the speech, the three guests had conversations about reality and future.

The detail that impressed Li the most in Folding Beijing is the narrow passageway for the three spaces. Li believes this novel acts as an alarm to the social reality, that is, a higher mobility is needed among different stratums. According to Hao, physics is a highly abstract discipline. It studies the relation between individuals and groups, systems, i.e. statistical patterns based on multiple individuals, coordinate system and relativity. If the factor of people is applied, it can render some conclusions. Li recognizes this opinion and thinks physics and sociology are related and both interpret the world from a general perspective.

The three guests paid great attention to the mobility of social stratums and the bottom of the society. Li made analyses from the perspective of three social promotion channels of education, career and market and believed that as long as such channels exist, there is hope for the society. By citing his experience in India, Ge explained that simply stratifying the society is actually disrespectful of the poor. The key was to construct a social culture of equality for all. Having been supporting public welfare undertakings with her own actions, Hao expressed her hope that the development of service industries with high human capital may truly push forward the country’s transition and development and that the bottom groups of the society may step away from low-level self-circulation. After the conservations, audience communicated with the guests via Q & A.

Humanities at Tsinghua” is a large-scale campaign initiated by Tsinghua University and regularly invites accomplishing humanists to deliver public speeches at the landmark building New Tsinghua Auditorium and elaborate on their classic theories, unique thoughts and major findings. It was officially kicked off at New Tsinghua Auditorium on January 10, 2016. Professor Li once lectured for the 3rd session of “Humanities at Tsinghua” with the theme being “how far is China away from a society of olivary structure”. By starting with his years of research experience, Li expressed his ideas on sociology, discussed issues like how China should cope with social structure tensions and answered the question as to “how far is China away from a society of olivary structure”.